Brands, It’s Time to Move Past Linear Storytelling — Here’s How | Marketing Maestros | Blogs | ANA

Brands, It’s Time to Move Past Linear Storytelling — Here’s How

March 6, 2019

By Abbey Thomas

Julia Tim/

Seventy percent of the population multitasks online while watching TV, according to research from eMarketer. Many advertisers are seeing this as a challenge rather than a chance to create innovative cross-platform experiences. In fact, 46 percent of advertisers surveyed said that consumers being distracted by their second screens is a top factor limiting the success of their TV campaigns.

Advertisers have every right to fear the second screen. Brand recall drops by as much as 90 percent every time a second screen enters the room. People aren't even bothering to fast-forward commercials anymore. They are picking up their phones or tablets instead.

But thanks to emerging technologies, we can connect those second-screen devices to their households, and those households to their televisions, so we can capture audience attention across any device or platform. This allows advertisers to transform the perceived challenges of the modern living room into a massive opportunity to drive real impact for their brands. Here's what you need to do.


1. Stop Thinking of TV in the Past

Today, television advertisers can leverage technology and scale that did not exist a year or so ago. This is facilitating a resurgence of TV. But you cannot think of TV in a silo. You have to remember all of the other devices in the living room and ask yourself: If someone watches my commercial, what do I want them to see next?

This planning should happen upfront, when you are setting your creative and media mix — not as an afterthought.


2. Understand the Technology

Programmatic advertisers and their partners have been working hard to build out tech stacks so they can find the right person at the right time across platforms and channels. As an industry, we checked that box, even on television.

Addressable TV advertising can be personalized to an audience's interests by harnessing first-party data to perform granular audience targeting. Equipped with audience predictor tools and audience-building algorithms, advertisers can create precise audience profiles within the connected TV (CTV) ecosystem. They can also optimize their TV campaigns in real time —whether that means turning them off, increasing their intensity or switching the ad content altogether — and access robust metrics to measure campaign effectiveness, such as view-through conversions and video completion rates.

To connect TVs to devices, we rely on automatic content recognition (ACR) technology, which is deployed across smart TVs, streaming devices, mobile devices and set-top boxes to identify what is being watched across millions of U.S. households. TV viewership is then mapped to different devices in the household so you can execute targeting on digital campaigns. From there, you can identify which household devices are consistently active while the TV is being watched using IP-, Wi-Fi-, and publisher-based signals. Solutions like this are widely available now, with hundreds of brands taking advantage of this media strategy.


3. Find Creative Support

The pipes are in place. Once you have figured out how to access them, concentrate on delivering that "right" person the perfect ad — a customized message that reflects their previous brand touchpoints. Some brands turn to their agency. Many brands have turned to building in-house creative teams so their war rooms are filled with internal brand champions from both respective creative and media groups to strategize side-by-side.

If you are not sure what to do, ask for help. Publishers and video-forward companies like Facebook and Snapchat have their own creative teams that can help brands craft the right follow-up message to their TV spot.


4. Rethink, Repurpose, Reuse

A second screen takeover doesn't always require a fancy second shoot. Take extra footage you shot and work with in-house talent to build in some voiceovers. Then, add an intro that connects the digital ad to the TV experience, something like, "You just saw my spot debut on the Oscars. Here is what you should do next…"

Hundreds of brands have delivered a well-thought-out second message to complement their on-air commercial, including major sponsors in marquee events like the Grammy's, Super Bowl and Academy Awards. And the TV networks know the power of their own second screen audience. ABC, for example, leverages keenly their own on-air talent to create custom voice overs that sync second screen devices to on-air activity.

Sometimes, brands love their commercials so much they can't imagine making massive changes to them. I get that. After all, you probably spent three months of your life and tens of thousands of dollars on it. A simple strategy to fine-tune for digital is simply consider targeting only your audiences who never saw your TV ad. With cord-cutting on the rise, there are plenty of these consumers to reach.


5. Remember to Follow User Behavior

Advertising has always taken this approach. What choice do we have if we want to connect with our audience? Advertising must reflect people's media consumption patterns, which means brands have no choice but to create and deliver captivating storytelling across screens. Do this right and you will win audiences' attention, increase share of mind, drive brand favorability and, ultimately, generate conversions.

Take Nutrish, for example. They took the time to understand viewers of their own TV ad as well as viewers of competitors' TV ads. These audiences were then retargeted 1:1 in real time on mobile devices to reinforce the brand's messaging. The campaign resulted in $1.1 million in incremental sales.

Yes, the second screen poses challenges, but new solutions exist. Brands, please consider these strategies — or risk missing out on a massive opportunity to capture audience attention!


Abbey Thomas is CMO at Tremor Video DSP.

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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